Movie review: Good Hair
A lot of fans of Chris Rock's standup and TV shows have found it painful to watch him try to extend his success to the movies, with comedies like Down to Earth and I Think I Love My Wife. Each new attempt has been worse than the last, but with Good Hair, Rock may have finally found his big-screen calling.
Under the direction of veteran comedy writer Jeff Stilson, the comedian turns documentary frontman with a style that owes a heavy debt to Michael Moore's irreverence and personal investment in his subjects. Spurred on by a comment from his young daughter about what constitutes "good hair," Rock and crew explore the field of African-American hair care, a nine-billion-dollar industry that's a total mystery to most white people.
It can be an eye-opening watch, full of revelations about the negative perceptions of a natural 'do within the black community, the source of Al Sharpton's straightened look, the caustic chemicals in hair relaxer, the expense and sexual etiquette of weaves and the growing control Asian business interests have over black hair.
The film's overall approach is pleasantly agenda-free, following an organic flow of curiosity from a flashy African-American hair show and its contestants in Atlanta to the Indian temple that supplies the market for human hair extensions. Rock provides consistently funny commentary throughout and projects without judgment a sense that black hair is big business, but vanity and peer pressure are color-blind.